Clockwise: Corry, Baillie, Reid, O’Hara and Suzy’s Castle.
By Bill Heaney
People living in the Loch Longside village of Portincaple, near Whistlefield and Garelochhead, are fighting tooth and nail to halt development there.
Initial plans submitted to Argyll and Bute Council showed 24 hillside terraced houses and 12 lochside terraced properties would be built on the banks of the loch, potentially doubling the population of 120.
However, the person behind the proposal for 12 new properties insists they will be built sustainably and with a focus on the environment.
One resident, Christine Pratt, who has lived in Portincaple, which was the site for a curiosity cottage on the loch shore called Suzy’s Castle, says the existing residents are are “horrified”.
She told the Lennox Herald that some people were “were even brought to tears” at the thought of it happening.
Suzy’s Castle, which was a residence built from an old boat on the shore.
Christine added: “The developers have been holding a community to ransom. This part of Scotland needs protecting, it shouldn’t be subject to this carbuncle.
“It seems so out of step with the world that we live in at the moment when you think that a development like this is being considered [at all] when we have a climate emergency.
“We can’t understand why such a proposal is even being entertained, to be quite honest.”
Developer Pelham Olive rebutted her remarks however. She said: “The proposed development will provide access to Loch Long at this point for the first time in 40 years or more. It is one of the very few points within miles where loch access can be arranged because of the proximity of the submarine base to the south and the oil terminal to the north.
“It is very much part of the government’s plans for the wider area to increase access to and usage of Scotland’s sea lochs.”
Bruce Jamieson of architects Puregreenspace who are behind the plans added: “Invasive Rhododendron will be eradicated from the site which has created a barrier to the water for half a century, the steep and dangerous bend at the north end of the road will be improved, managed woodland will be introduced and a new, bio-diverse natural habitat reintroduced.
“The development will re-establish the historic connection to the Loch, opening Portincaple up to occasional visitors and making the beach and the ancient drover and ferry route across to Loch Goil accessible for everyone.
“The houses have been designed so they only take up a small footprint of the site- leaving the majority of land for regeneration of woodland, and the houses will benefit from 100% heating and hot water from low carbon technology, using as far as we know, the first domestic ambient loop loch water system in Scotland.”
Christine added: “We held a meeting last week and we’ve had the most extraordinary support. That’s a rare thing because it’s been cross-party support. Ross Greer at the Greens, Jackie Baillie of Labour, Brendan O’Hara of the SNP, Alan Reid of the Lib Dems and Maurice Corry of the Conservatives have all given us their support, whilst Garelochhead Community Council have been fantastic too.”